The Establishing Shot: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Review David Fincher's version

Posted by Craig Grobler on Google+ On Sunday, December 18, 2011

Does the world really need another pointless remake? Probably not - but it needs more films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from David Fincher.

Let’s get it out of the way early. This is not going to be a comparison between Niels Arden Oplev and David Fincher’s work, and it is difficult to discuss Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in real depth without giving anything away. But it would be dismissive not start with the material that they both base their marvellous films on - Stieg Larsson's novel is pretty spectacular tapping into our curiosity of the criminal mind, cultural perceptions, introducing us to the most unlikely anti-hero and as alluded to in the film - it bridges an old darkness running 70 years deep and the new Europe. But it also draws on Stieg Larsson world view - in his own journalism career he investigated corruption, racism, right wing extremism, Nazism and abhorred violence against woman. All themes touched on in the Millennium trilogy.

I enjoyed Niels Arden Oplev’s film and read Stieg Larsson's book after - if I’m to be honest to get a better understanding of some of the bits that film that eluded me. I’m putting it down to cultural differences and loved the film more for it. I’m pretty sure if Larsson had an American agent the format for his stories would have been altered losing their uniqueness like the last 10 minutes of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Such is the popularity of Larsson’s work that they became best sellers and spawned the 3 films of the Millennium Trilogy and a popular Swedish television series Millennium (I’m unsure if the TV series are complete different production or the films remixed for TV). Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first in The Millennium Trilogy and introduces us to disgraced Swedish journalist and publisher of Millennium - Mikael Blomkvist. Millennium is an independent publication renowned for it’s exposes of corruption and under handed dealings. Something corporate advertisers are not keen to be associated with leaving Millennium respected but in a precarious financial position.

David Fincher’s film starts with Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) at a low point, after Millennium has implicated a businessman in some under handed dealings, the businessman taking umbrage to this proceeds legally and after Blomkvist is unable to provide sufficient evidence is left disgraced and near penniless by the courts.

Enter a strange offer from Henrik Vagner (Christopher Plummer), patriarch of the Vagner dynasty. A prominent old family intricately tied into Sweden’s heritage. Vagner offers Blomkvist large sum, of much needed, money, a break from his troubles in Stockholm and more importantly confidential information regarding the businessman behind Blomkvist’s recent troubles.

In return Blomkvist is to use his investigative eye, to research and write a biography of Henrik Vagner staying on the Vagner’s island amongst the estranged family (many played by a who’s who of talented actors), at least on the surface - as in reality Blomkvist is to look in to the disappearance of Henrik’s much loved niece Harriet, forty years ago. An event that further exasperated the family’s dysfunction and is at the crux of the Vagner fortunes downward slide. Everyone is a suspect and his main clue - dried flowers send to taunt Henrik Vagner every year, as his niece would. So begins Blomkvist investigation that leads him on a dark an unexpected journey. Throw all of this into a pot and out of it The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo rises.

Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a dark deep tale that weaves the effects of the second World War - usually glossed over or forgotten in modern fiction, family betrayal, misogyny, corruption in big business, an intimate exploration of usually unseen Nordic life, violence, social isolation, the failure of social care and one of David Fincher’s favourite subjects serial killers.

Even with the possibility of another two films coming based on the remaining Millennium trilogy stories; The Girl who played with Fire and The Girl who kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I’m categorising The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the third in a Fincher Serial Killer Trilogy alongside Se7en and (even though I really didn’t enjoy it as much as the other two) Zodiac.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is perfect material for David Fincher; a darkly complex story with engaging characters set in a world different from ours. Fincher has the uncanny knack for making his films incredibly immersive by giving dramatic structure and the ambience of his films just as much importance as the narrative. He applies the same care and attention to Dragon Tattoo as he did with The Social Network, possibly more as there are more moving bits, extreme behaviour and personalities that have to be portrayed credibly.

As with his other films he brings a particular style or motif to the visuals. Darks, lights and yellows seem to play a big part in creating the atmosphere as well as, to raise the contrast between the old and the new, the good and the bad as well as a bleached look for flashbacks.

The similarities between a Bond film and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo don’t end with leading man Daniel Craig. The film starts with a outstanding title sequence that seems a little out of place but sets the tone for the dark and cold Dragon Tattoo as well as puts Trent Reznor’s fingerprint all over the film. His soundtrack for The Social Network was an unexpected pleasure but Dragon Tattoo is exactly the kind of material that Reznor excels at. His tension building sounds fade in and out lifting the action of the screen.

But all of this would not work without the characters being believable within the Dragon world and as with The Social Network this was possibly the highlight of the film for me as David Fincher draws class performances that are poignant but subtle making the characters and their interactions all the more effective. Particularly Daniel Craig and of course Rooney Mara as his research assistant Lisbeth Salander whose performance steals the show from experienced heavyweights and delivers both toughness and vulnerability in her transformation to the anti social and tech savvy Lisbeth Salander.

Fincher inspires great performances from the entire cast, so much so that although the film is in English it feels, sounds and looks Swedish and if you didn’t know better one would assume they were Swedish. What a pleasure seeing Christopher Plummer back on screen in a role he can get his teeth into.

Highlights of the film for me when after two separate narratives, Blomkvist and Salander’s characters meet. Cinema magic. Also the play between Blomkvist and the villain of the piece are marvellous to watch. Not only delivering what must surely be one of the most memorable scenes in recent cinema as well as cementing Daniel Craig’s position as the underdog we love to see in difficult positions.

With a lengthy run time and the bulk of the film being dialogue driven, Fincher uses this to his advantage creating another engaging and immersive experience punctuated with chilling psychological and physical violence that unravels a mystery with depth and richness as he transports us to the cold starkness of a inherent Nordic mystery.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo release date: 26 December, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander (Mara), a young computer hacker.

Director: David Fincher
Writers: Steven Zaillian (screenplay), Stieg Larsson (novel)
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Stellan Skarsgård

The Establishing Shot: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Review


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

On the RADAR


I really enjoyed Johannes Roberts' gripping & taut shark attack thrill ride 47 Metres Down - FILM REVIEW

Christopher Nolan & Emma Thomas introduce their modern classic DUNKIRK and answer some questions about DUNKIRK - EVENT REPORT

The Game of Thrones: Touring Exhibition is coming to London - UPCOMING EXHIBITION

I visit the BT Tower for the riveting Fear The Walking Dead Season 3 pre-premiere launch - EVENT REPORT

In Cinemas this week


The 2017 EE BAFTA Nominations announced

Matthew McConaughey introduces GOLD and tells us a little bit about the film

xXx: Return of Xander Cage European Premiere EVENT REPORT
Richard Kelly talks the Making of Donnie Darko
Alex Zane Presents the FDA Autumn/Winter Film Preview & chats with Tom Conti
The Light Between The Oceans Press Conference
De Palma Review
Prop Store Auction Preview Exhibition
Idris Elba suprises us at Star Trek Beyond
The Nice Guys Surprise Us
Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review
10 Criminally underrated British Crime Films you probably haven't seen yet
Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Batmobile
In discussion the making of Triple 9
Deadpool Film Review
Quentin Tarantino talks The Hateful Eight
Star Wars Visions Exhibition Tokyo
SalonQP 2015 Preview
The Rogues Gallery Creation of a Super Villian Book Launch
Legend Press Conference
SPECTRE all the news
No Escape Review
Ant-Man Euoropean Press Conference
Batman: Arkham Knight Cape & Cowl Exhibition London
Ant-Man Willard Wigan Micro Exhibition
Unheard James Bond Themes
Peyton Reed & Paul Rudd introduce Marvel's Ant-Man
Knight of Cups Trailer Breakdown

Latest Film & TV News

Latest reviews:

Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review
Triple 9 Review
Deadpool Film Review
The Hateful Eight Review
Legend Review
No Escape Review
Mr. Holmes Review
The Grandmaster Review
Dawn of The Planet of The Apes Review
The Drop Film Review
300: Rise of an Empire
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Review

Craig Says...


Legend of the East End Exhibition

135 Bethnal Green Rd,E2,
28 Aug - 11 Sep 2015
the alibi film club

The Alibi Cult Film Club

The Alibi ,Dalston, E8 2PB
Every Mon

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London The Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London The Making of Harry Potter

Harry Potter Tour

WB Studios, Leavesden
April 2014+

Bond in Motion Exhibition

Bond in Motion at London Film Museum

Bond in Motion London

London Film Museum
21 March 2014+

TheEstShot Listening To:

Craig's Awesome Mix